Eight people arrested in Iran on charges of links to US intelligence

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iranian authorities have arrested eight people they accused of linking to the CIA and collecting information to send abroad during the bloody violence that erupted in protest at rising gasoline prices.

Iranian authorities cut off the Internet almost completely across the country on November 16, a day after its surprise announcement of a 200 percent increase in gasoline prices.

There were reports of killings and arrests as security forces deployed to control demonstrations that took a violent turn in some areas where dozens of banks, gas stations and police stations were burned.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch accused Tehran of “deliberately obscuring” more than 100 killings and thousands of arrests during the security crackdown.

Officials in Iran confirmed that five people were killed and announced so far 500 arrests, including about 180 “gang leaders.”

However, Amnesty International reported on Monday that at least 143 demonstrators had been killed in the security crackdown carried out by the authorities since 15 November.

In the latest arrests announced, the official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday that eight people had been arrested in connection with the CIA.

“A number of elements that were working to gather information about the riots, transfer them out of the country and make them accessible to foreigners were spotted and arrested before they did so,” a security ministry official was quoted as saying.

Six of those arrested “were present (where the riots occurred) and were carrying out the agendas of the intelligence apparatus,” the agency said, citing the unnamed source.

She said two others were “collecting information for transfer abroad” and were arrested before leaving the country.

The agency said that the detainees were trained “to collect information under the cover of” citizen journalist “in different countries and funded by the US intelligence service.”

The United States said on Tuesday it had received thousands of letters from the Islamic Republic related to the demonstrations, including photographs and videos, after it invited them to defy Internet access restrictions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We have so far received about 20,000 letters, photos, videos, and information about violations committed by the (Iranian) regime through (Telegram) application.”

– “Serious conspiracy” –

The turmoil triggered by the rise in gasoline prices came a year and a half after US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Iran has accused “mercenaries” backed by its enemies abroad, including the United States, Israel and the opposition People’s Mujahedeen, which Tehran considers a “terrorist” organization, of being behind the protests.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Iran had foiled a “very serious” plot.

“The Iranian people have foiled a deep, wide and very dangerous conspiracy and the enemies have invested a lot of money and made great efforts to carry out such practices, namely sabotage, evil acts and murder,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state television.

Khamenei on Twitter expressed his “deep appreciation and thanks” to the Iranian people, in a tweet attached to photos of a large pro-government rally in Tehran on Monday.

He said the Iranians “once again proved to be a strong and great people and defeated the great enemy plot by being in place” during the pro-march.

The blame blamed “global arrogance and Zionism” for the violence in reference to the United States and Israel.

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